My family makes me crazy.
Here's the dynamic in my family, been this way since I was two and a half and my brother was born. He is the Golden Child, king of all he surveys, never wrong. I am the one who lurks in the shadows, who isn't listened to, who has spent her whole life feeling she was "less than." As adults, this plays out this way -- everything revolves around the needs, schedules and desires of my brother and sister in law. Paul and I arent allowed a say in how things go when we all get together, and if we do dare to voice an opinion there's a strong sense that we're just deliberately being a pain in the ass and why can't we just go along no matter how inconvienient it is for us?
I spent most of my life struggling with the idea that I was entitled to my own feelings. It's one of the biggest benefits to therapy for me, because that's where I learned that I had a right to feel the way I did about things. That my feelings were valid, even acceptaable. Moxie
All this to say, I had a stupid fight with my mother yesterday and it's still pissing me off.
She turned 60 this year, as did my dad. I suggested we all go away somewhere for a weekend--both parents, my brother's family and mine. to celebrate. I further suggested a place on Lake Erie, which would be halfway between both families and easy for us to get to. I asked my sister in law to look into some places as her family vacations there a lot.
My sister in law is the daughter my mother wishes she had--ie nothing like me. Thin, pretty, affluent, competent. I feel absolutley eclipsed around her, despite the fact I consider her a friend and like her a lot. The upshot is, a weekend away turns into a week, and my thought of a nice cottage type place turns into a luxury condo which would cost each family, well, far more than we can afford. This was presented to me by my mother as a pretty much a done deal, although based on a conversation with my brother yesterday that wasn't in fact the case.
So, I talked to my mom yesterday and she asked if I'd had a chance to look at the website listing the condos. I replied that I had and needed to talk to her about this, that my sister in law had not consulted me before talking to her and that these prices were far beyond what we could afford. So, could she talk to me about what her priorities were for the trip so my SIL and I could talk and figure something out.
Se flew off the handle so fast and far she may still be orbiting the earth. Absolutley not, she refused to get in the middle of this "again" (what the f--- she was talking about "again" still baffles me). I tried to explain that we simply could not afford what my sister in law was proposing and I didn't want to talk to my SIL about alternatives and present something to my mom as a fait accompli that wouldn't make her happy. She just kept getting angier no matter how much I tried to explain what I was doing, and finally says "I don't want to do anything." ie cancel the trip entirely. Fine, I say, and hang up the phone as a)the conversation was NOT going to get more productive from there and b) I could feel my own fury rising to the point I could not speak.
First of all, if anyone was in the wrong here it was my sister in law, for proposing an expensive vacation without checking with us about a budget first. And based on the conversation with my brother, it seems that wasn't actually what she did, she just suggested a web site to my mom. But here's my family dynamic: I get to be the bad guy for first, being honest about our inability to afford such nice accomodations, and then, for pissing Mom off and ruining everything, althouh what i was in fact doing was trying to get input from her about she really wanted --nice place/shorter trip? Or less nice place, longer trip?
In my family, the biggest sin is pissing Mom off, even if the person who does it is in the right. It's going to be my fault the birthday trip was canceled and God I am so horrible for stirring up trouble. "Stirring up trouble" meaning being honest about our need to live within our means. I am SO ANGRY right now. How dare she marginalize our financial difficulties like that, how dare she treat me as if I were deliberately being difficult when this is a REAL problem, and how dare she treat me as her emotional punching bag.
I am writing this here because it's all I can do to not tell her "You treat me with respect or we're DONE. You deal with me calmly and rationally and you stop taking out your shit on me. I have been your emotional punching bag for 35 years and it's TOO LONG. Do not marginalize my feelings, my needs, my opinions in favor -- always -- of my brother's. Just. Stop."
I often play with the idea of cutting off contact with her. It's just too hurtful to always be treated like this, and certainly anyone who wasn't my mother and behaved in this way towards me would have been out of my life long ago. But it feels so disrespectful, so wrong, so FINAL to tell her I have had it. I would lose the rest of my family too, as I have been placed in that Bad Guy role for so long that no one would acknowledge her toxic behavior, only my drastic reaction. Plus, as craptacular a mother as she is, she's a wonderful grandmother and Maggie loves her.
Ugh, again. Let's recap my year so far: Editors hate me, working my ass off for NO MONEY, my favorite girlfriend moves to Florida, discover things in my marriage are far worse than I suspected and I didn't think they were good, and NOW get to play my role as the family shit dump. HOW many more months in 2006?